Frustrating not to see reviews of The Other Side of Desire at nor at Rolling Stone. Those are the only two review sources that I have any respect for (and that varies). Why is this album being ignored?

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Well, we're slowly growing! Cool beans. Please share this community with any RLJ fans you might know. In the meantime, you might share how you became a fan.

I heard "Chuck E's in Love" on the radio about 1977, and had recently discovered this amazing new show called NBC's Saturday Night. Later on in season 1, RLJ appeared on the show and sang her hit single as well as "Coolsville." I owned her debut album within a week, and when she followed it up with Pirates, I knew that I had discovered an artist that would stay with me for life. Interesting that I also discovered Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen at about the same time, and am still a devoted fan of them, too, after all of those summers have slipped by since. ;-)

Pirates - A Review

I was at a crossroads in my life in 1980. I left home in Arkansas and drove out to LA to experience life on my own (in a worn-out 1973 Toyota Celica). Before the year was out, I would experience down and out as badly as it would get in my own life. Perhaps that's why I fear I can't be 100% objective about this magnificent recording.

Pirates was the follow-up to RLJ's auspicious debut album two years earlier. Where the first album had no discernible theme, this one told the tales of the downtrodden. Thus the deep personal connection.

It opens with the most optimistic song on the collection "We Belong Together," which is transformed from the great to the stellar by the drum work of Steve Gadd. The song meanders all over the place, it seems to have too many lyrics for its own good, but its delivery is perfect. A magical moment was caught in the studio that she never came close to duplicating live.

What follows is the first sad tale, of poor Zero having already quit school and getting beat up by her abusive boyfriend for the umpteenth time, she encounters Louie and Eddie on the street. They have no words of comfort, just a truth that Zero must accept sooner or later: He's more trouble than he's worth.

What follows are tales of tragedy ("Skeletons"), broken hearts ("A Lucky Guy"), and saying goodbye ("Pirates"). There's some nice be-bop jazz to snap your fingers to, as well as "Traces of the Western Slopes," an account of slipping across the tracks and using pharmaceutical means to get away from the drudgery for a while (Happily, she would later successfully overcome heroin addiction). It closes with "The Returns," which tells us

Oh, it's all flying and waving
For you to keep trying
You're so close.
So close.

Hang in there. That was the album's ultimate message. So I did. And I'm here today.

Thanks, RLJ, for a perfect album, as well as the advice I needed.

Have you been lucky enough to make it to a live show? if so, please share your experience.

Hi all, I'm Ron Enderland. I became an RLJ fan for life when she first appeared on NBC's Saturday Night (yeah, before it was known as Saturday Night Live) in that show's very first season. I ran out and bought her debut album and eventually wore it out. In 1981, she released one of the most stellar albums in history, Pirates.  I was hooked.

Since then, she's had her ups and downs. She's battled addictions and other personal demons. But she's stayed on top of her game, as evidenced by two recent releases that have stunned the world: The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard and Balm in Gilead.

This community is for her fans. I was surprised to see that she didn't already have one, and it's my honor to remedy that oversight. Welcome, and let's hear what you have to say!

The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard - A Review

Rickie Lee has always enjoyed making music that was commercially unviable. She's generally released it in bits and pieces, as a song or two on an album of more radio-friendly stuff.  However, there was Ghostyhead, certainly an album-long experimental sound. And there was The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard.

For background on the project, I'm going to quote

Consulting theologians and Bible scholars during the 1990s, photographer, writer, graphic artist, and everyday mystic Lee Cantelon (aka Pennyhead) assembled a small book presenting the words of Jesus Christ (just Jesus' words, not the stuff surrounding them) in a fitting translation called The Words. He did it for the purpose of presenting those words to people who were not "religious" -- people who were put off by organized religion or even offended by it. In 2005, using artist Marc Chiat's studio (on Exposition Boulevard) as the recording space, he invited a number of musicians to begin assembling backing tracks for a spoken word rendition of his book (Mike Watt was just one participant, reading "The Harvest" over the music). Rickie Lee Jones was invited to participate in the summer of 2006, and in a matter of moments she changed the entire nature of the project. Jones claimed she could not read the words with any authority, but asked if she could sing them. She was left alone in a room with a microphone and, without the text, completely improvised the words from her heart. There were two tracks taken from those sessions, the opening cut, "Nobody Knows My Name," and "Where I Like It Best." Those two cuts appear here unchanged from the original recordings made on Exposition Boulevard, as are two others ("I Was There," "Donkey Ride") recorded later at Sunset Sound -- first takes, no alterations. The rest were done using the same basic principle, with The Words as the inspiration. The end result is easily the most arresting recording of Rickie Lee Jones' labyrinthine career.

OK, that's the background. Now, my opinion:

This album is absolutely magnificent. I would put it in second place all time, behind the perfect PIrates. It demands that you know your Bible, as she gets into some genuine subtleties that never made it into the movies.

It opens with "Nobody Knows My Name," which is about the Savior himself, and his prehuman existence. Jesus of Nazereth had a wisdom that which confounded both his followers and his opposers. This song explains where all of that came from. "Lamp of the Body," "Where I Like It Best," "Circle in the Sand," and "Seventh Day" are all songs sung from Jesus' perspective.

"Gethsemane" and "Road to Emmaus" are pleasant free-form instrumentals which ramble all over the place, much like the roads of ancient Israel.

The rest of the songs are sung from the vantage point of the eyewitness. They are filled with pain, wonder, hope, and resignation.  "Elvis Cadillac" is the most radio-worthy of the lot, and indeed might have made a hit single. It's a fun tune about life in heaven, where Janis Joplin is performing at the local bar.

The album closes with "I Was There," the most poignant on the record. Jesus has left the building, and this disciple is wistfully recalling what did (and sadly didn't) take place as expected when this history-changing man walked among us.

The pious among you will love this album. So will the historians, it follows Bible accounts well. And even the atheist will appreciate the effect this man, Jesus of Nazereth, had on the people who saw him personally.
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